What is Hoarseness?

Posted on Updated on 21 April, 2018


We can define hoarseness as an odd change in voice. It is not a disease but a symptom. This disorder may appear along with dry or scratchy throat. The vocal sound of an individual may become raspy, weak, strained, and breathy. The dysfunction of sound-creating portions of the larynx is responsible for it. When we breathe, the vocal folds are away from each other.

While during singing or speaking, these vocal cords get united. When the air from lungs passes via them, they vibrate and create sound. Due to many reasons, these folds get swollen. It obstructs the vibration, and so affect the voice quality, pitch, and volume.

In this article, you will know the real causes, and treatment and even remedies for this disease. It is only to make you aware of hoarseness.

Causes of Hoarseness

There are some conditions responsible for hoarseness. Some of the primary reasons are as follows:

Acute Laryngitis

It is the most usual cause of hoarseness. In this, these folds get swollen. The voice strain in a common cold is behind acute Laryngitis. During an episode of this disorder, severe damage or physical assault to them can also cause a tiring voice. Some of the Acute Laryngitis is caused by the following:-

  • Trying hard to speak up in chaotic situations.
  • Extreme or overusing voice
  • The use of unsuitable pitch during a speech. The voice tone may be too low or too high.
  • Not using any types of amplification system while addressing to the public.

Benign Lesions

You can suffer from the extended hoarseness if there is an excessive use of voice. If you speak loudly for more extended periods, then you may suffer from it as well. You may get affected from cysts, nodules, and polyps. In the vocal folds, callus-like growth is vocal nodules. Besides, people who misuse their voice can also suffer from cysts and polyps. However, those who don’t may also suffer from it.

Vocal Hemorrhage

Your vocal folds may have developed a hemorrhage in a case you feel an instant voice loss. A scream or other intense vocal use may follow after it. The reason behind hemorrhage occurrence is the injuries to the blood vessels of the soft tissues and vocal folds. They both are full of blood so that it may cause internal bleeding as well. Usually, it is a frank emergency where you need to rush to the doctor as soon as possible. The treatment includes an otolaryngologist diagnosis as well as voice rest.

Gastroesophageal Reflux

Another cause of this disorder can be gastro-reflux. It occurs when the stomach acid rises and touches the gulping tube or also known as the esophagus. This occurrence hurts the folds and leads to this syndrome. Regurgitation and heartburn are some of the other symptoms of it. In this disorder, the patient wakes up with the worse in the morning. However, it improves as the day passes. They always feel a mucus or lump in their gullet which is followed by a cough.

Laryngopharyngeal Reflux

An acronym of LPRD, it is when the gastro-reflux manages to reach up to the back of the gullet via the upper sphincter. In the gullet, the larynx, pharynx, and lungs are very sensitive to the parts of reflux such as digestive fluids and stomach acid. In fact, even in a small quantity of such fluid can do severe damage to this area. Often, people suffering from LPRD don’t have the initial signs of GERD like heartburn.


Another reason of hoarseness is smoking. In fact, it is also a significant cause of throat cancer. Hence, you must undergo a thorough checkup if you are a smoker and suffering from this disorder.

Neurological Disorders

People may also suffer from hoarseness due to neurological diseases. It includes disorders like Parkinson. Besides, a rare neurological condition known as spasmodic dysphonia that mainly affects the voice and breathing can also be the reason for it. After paralyzing of vocal folds, breathy and weak sounds may appear. If the symptoms last for over three months, then you need to visit a neurologist for diagnosis.

Some of the other Causes

Apart from them, there are other causes as well that may lead to this disease. Now, this includes thyroid problems, menstruation, allergies, and traumas. Laryngeal cancer may also be the reason behind it. Hence, you must visit the doctor if you are suffering from a long-lasting one.


The general physicians can help if cold or flu has caused it. Besides, the speech therapists can help with speech problems and voice functions.  They are usually public speakers, teachers, singers, and even actors. To sum up, the treatment of vocal nodules, polyps, and cysts usually includes microsurgery and voice therapy.


First and foremost, the doctors assess the patient’s history for general health and hoarseness. Afterwards, they check the voice of the patients. Also, they check entire ear, nose, and throat. For this, they examine the vocal folds of a patient. It is also known as Laryngoscopy. The doctors may suggest it anytime to the patient. Although, someone suffering with it for more than three weeks should get himself checked. The maximum time for evaluation should not be more than three months. One should take immediate steps if any severe issue gets detected in the assessment.

Doctors use mirror positioned at the back of the gullet to check the vocal folds. Another way to examine the vocal folds is via passing a small flexible tube which produces light known as fibreoptic scope in the nose. It may pain slightly, but patients have to tolerate it. Besides, there are other tests based on assessing voice of the patients. Now, this includes measuring various features of sound like airflow, pitch, and others.

Some Natural Home Remedies



It may calm the swollen mucous of the larynx. This Ayurvedic treatment may tone down inflammation and pain. Besides, it may eliminate the toxins. You can take it by adding it to juice or smoothie. Moreover, ginger tea can be helpful as well.



If common cold is the cause of your hoarseness, then garlic can prove helpful. Its antiviral and antibacterial features will reduce infection and inflammation. You can add raw garlic to various food items like soup, salad, etc. Additionally, you can consume two or three cloves of garlic directly.



It is among the oldest remedies for treating various diseases. The antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant properties make it a suitable cure for tackling cough and hoarseness. You can take it with warm water or tea.

Peppermint Essential Oil


It can bring some relief for symptoms like scratchy throats. It can provide some relaxation to your vocal cords by reducing inflammation and discharging phlegm. You can take it with a glass of water or apply it externally to your chest area.

When should you visit an otolaryngologist or doctor?

  • You must visit them if it remains for more than three weeks.
  • A chain smoker should be more alert.
  • You must visit them if there are no signs of cold or flu.
  • When facing problems while swallowing food
  • You must visit a doctor If you note drastic change in voice.
  • When you face difficulty in speaking and breathing
  • If you are a musician or any other vocal performer, and it is affecting your performance.


The treatment depends on the cause of this disorder. Usually, it just needs voice rest for some time to recover from it in most of the cases. However, it may require surgery if the situation has become severe. The doctors also refer voice therapists for patients with chronic hoarseness. Not just active smoking but they also suggest avoiding passive smoke to every patient. Moreover, intaking fluids frequently and medication may help in reducing the mucus.

How to stay safe from it?

If you notice any alternation in your speech for some period, then visit voice therapists. They are trained professionals who can help you with some voice disorders. One should opt a healthy and liberal lifestyle. It includes avoiding bad habits like yelling, screaming and smoking. Even you should not overuse your voice. If you are a vocal professional or performer such as singer, teacher, orator, or others, then you must take special care of it.


  • Smoking may curse you with this disorder. So, quit it even if you are already affected by it. It will make it only worse.
  • You shouldn’t use agents that dehydrate the body. It includes caffeine and alcohol.
  • Stay away from passive smoking as much as possible.
  • You should keep your body hydrated by drinking a lot of water and other fluids.
  • Keep your home humid.
  • You should not eat over spicy food items.
  • Don’t try to speak loudly or for too long period.
  • In a crowd, you can use a microphone to talk over the phone or address public.
  • The injuries may get severe if you continue to sing or speak after suffering from it.

You should visit professional voice trainers and follows their advice.